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The Argentine and Portuguese forwards are levelled on 43 league goals for the season, as they both netted to help their respective clubs to victories at the weekend

Lionel Messi returned to goal-scoring form on Sunday, grabbing a brace in Barcelona's 7-0 win against Rayo Vallecano to go level with Cristiano Ronaldo on 43 league goals this season as the duo looks set for a straight battle to claim the European Golden Shoe.

The Portuguese superstar also got on the scoresheet at the weekend when he bagged the opening goal in Real Madrid's 3-0 win over Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Trailing 30 points behind Ronaldo and Messi is Robin van Persie, who neared the magical 30-goal mark after he scored the equaliser in Arsenal's 1-1 draw away to Stoke on Saturday.

Meanwhile in the Bundesliga, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar registered two in Schalke's 4-0 home win against Hertha Berlin to move a goal clear of domestic rival Mario Gomez, who scored just once in Bayern Munich's 2-0 triumph over Stuttgart.

Wayne Rooney has the opportunity to leapfrog the pair of them when his Manchester United side take on local rivals Manchester City on Monday.

In Serie A, Zlatan Ibrahimovic continued his best-ever season with two more goals as Milan beat Siena 4-1. Burak Yilmaz stayed on 32 strikes for the season as he failed to net in Trabzonspor's 4-2 loss to Galatasaray.

Rounding up the top 10, Radamel Falcao joined Aleksandrs Cekulajevs on 46 points after the Colombian scored a 95th minute equaliser in Atletico Madrid's 2-2 draw with Real Betis.

Rank

Player          

Country

Club

League

Weight

Goals

Points

1

C. Ronaldo

POR

Real Madrid

ESP

2

43

86

=

L. Messi

ARG

Barcelona

ESP

2

   43    86

3

R. v Persie

NED

Arsenal

ENG

2

28

56

4

K. Huntelaar

NED

Schalke

GER

2 27 54

5

M. Gomez

GER

Bayern

GER

2

26

52

=

W. Rooney

ENG

Man Utd

ENG

2

26

52

=

Ibrahimovic

SWE

AC Milan

ITA

2

26

52

8

B. Yilmaz

TUR

Trabzonspor

TUR

1.5

32

48

9

A Cekulajevs

LVA

Trans*

EST

1

46

46

 =

R. Falcao

COL

Atl. Madrid

ESP

2

23

46


* = league season finished


History & How It Works


In 1967-68, French football magazine L'Equipe opted to hand out an award to the top goalscorer in all European leagues for his good performances during the season. Between 1968 and 1991, high profile names such as Eusebio, Gerd Muller, Ian Rush and Marco van Basten won the coveted trophy.

However, the gap between big and small leagues started to grow in the early 90s and L'Equipe decided to make the competition unofficial after the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) issued a protest in 1991. Darko Pancev won the award that season with 34 goals, but the CFA claimed that a player had scored 40 goals in Cyprus that term.

Adidas, sponsor of the awards, still handed out the trophy until 1996 before European Sports Magazine (with L'Equipe as a member) decided to make the title official again. ESM divided all European leagues in three groups according to strength, and attached to each group a quotient by which the number of goals is multiplied to obtain the player's rating. The European Golden Shoe was thus no longer necessarily handed to the top goalscorer, but to the player with the most points.

The weightings are determined by the league's ranking on the Uefa coefficients, which in turn depend on the results of each league's clubs in European competition over the previous five seasons. Goals scored in the top five leagues according to the Uefa coefficients are multiplied by a factor of two, and goals scored in the leagues ranked six to 21 are multiplied by 1.5. Goals in all other leagues are all worth one single point.

This measure has prevented players from so-called weaker leagues from winning the European Golden Shoe, since a goal scored in, for example, Armenia, Estonia or Azerbaijan, carries less weight than a goal scored in Serie A, La Liga, the Bundesliga or the Premier League.

Players such as Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Forlan and Lionel Messi have won the European Golden Shoe in the past few seasons.

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